Fun Factory Ballymena has began hosting a series of quiet play sessions for autistic children, during which visitor entry numbers will be significantly reduced, lighting will be dimmed and no loud music will be played.
A six-month pilot of the initiative, which is supported by Council’s Community Planning Partnership, will see the sessions offered on the last Wednesday of every month between March and October from 4pm to 5.30pm (excluding July and August).
The sessions align with Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s strategy to make Mid and East Antrim an Autism Friendly Borough as part of its Community Plan. Partnering with a wide range of organisations, including The Fun Factory, Council is creating a strong, vibrant, safe and inclusive community in which local citizens, businesses and community organisations work together to improve the lives of everyone.
Council remains strongly committed to ensuring Mid and East Antrim is an accessible, safe, welcoming and inclusive place for every person living in or visiting the Borough. In 2021, it was awarded the prestigious ‘Autism Impact Award’ for six of its venues in recognition of “going above and beyond” to create accessible and ‘autism-friendly’ environments – including Seven Towers Leisure Centre and The People’s Park. These award accreditations were presented by Autism NI, in partnership with the Northern Health and Social Care Trust (NHSCT).
Pamela, Manager of The Fun Factory, commented: “The Fun Factory is very much behind Council’s ambition to be as accessible and inclusive as possible for every person of every age, background and ability living in or visiting our Mid and East Antrim – it’s something we very much strive to achieve in our own business. We passionately believe that every child deserves the chance to have a fun and enjoyable experience in an environment in which they feel safe and comfortable. Council has been fantastic in helping us to understand the challenges faced by autistic children and their families and supporting us to develop these new quiet play sessions.”
Based in Ballymena’s Pennybridge Industrial Estate, The Fun Factory is structured around a large multi-level climbing frame for adventurous five to 12-year-olds. The attraction comprises a range of slides together with ball pool and freefall slide, a wide range of additional play activities. A smaller climbing frame for two to five-year-olds also features slides and a ball pool. A multi-use sports court for all ages is also available, and a cafe offering good visibility over the play areas for accompanying adults. For more information visit www.thefunfactoryni.com. Sessions can be booked by calling 028 2565 9366.